Green Life Volunteers has only strengthened my desire to travel and explore different cultures. There’s a big difference between volunteering in your home country and doing so abroad. You experience so much more by living in a way that’s new to you. Well, at least I did.
If you want a full, week by week play of my time in Costa Rica with Green Life Volunteers you can just go to the site and check out the blog. Because all of that is there, I’ll try to keep this post as brief as I can.
The decision to go to Costa Rica, despite my parent’s barely-hidden disapproval, was the best I’ve made in years. People constantly ask me how it was and I always find trouble adequately answering the question. Does “It was the one of the best experiences of my life” sound too forward? In all honesty, that’s no exaggeration. No other period in my life have I grown so much as an individual. It’s one thing to head off on your own for college, but an utterly different thing to head to a Spanish-speaking country with little internet, no friends, and no knowledge of where you’re going.
I can understand why my parents had doubts about this trip. But I know that they could see how happy I was there and how much more independent and able I am now as a result. Most of my friends stayed home and worked in a typical office, doing basic intern duties. I, on the other hand, explored a foreign country, became more proficient in another language, made friends from across the world, made a difference, and learned more about myself than I would have stuck at home.
Keep in mind that on the blog postings I didn’t even mention all of the great experiences I had. I didn’t talk about the travelling I was able to do in throughout the country, or the pure bliss of living in a small rural beach town. I didn’t talk about all of the friends I made (both locals and international volunteers), nor did I mention all of the animals we helped. If I could show you some before-and-after photos of the dogs and cats, how their personalities changed, how their physical bodies improved, you would be able to understand the impact made.
Janina, Green Life’s creator and supervisor, is just the best. She personally supervises all of the volunteers from Puerto Jimenez, where she lives. When you join a GLV program, you’re not just sent off into the unknown by yourself. Janina will usually check in on volunteers during their stay. If you’re in Puerto Jimenez, like I was, you never have to worry about being alone in a foreign country. She’s always available when you need her and does everything she can to make sure you feel comfortable. In all honesty, that’s the difference between GLV and other volunteer abroad programs. Because GLV is small, Janina personally knows and has tested out all of the volunteer opportunities and is able to watch out for every volunteer.
The only advice I can give is that you should just do it. If you’ve been thinking about doing something unique for more than a few months, go ahead and take a leap of faith. Save up, plan it out, and go ahead. Life is short, and people keep forgetting just how little time you really have to experience it.